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Fitzroy, Fowey
Photograph: Fitzroy

14 incredible UK restaurants worth planning an entire trip around

Need some holiday inspiration? The food at these far-flung UK eateries is so good it’s worth travelling for

Written by
Lucy Lovell
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How far would you travel for a good meal? Another country? A different continent? Well, as long as it’s further than your local pub, you’re in the right place. Because in little ol’ Britain there are a ton of really incredible restaurants to explore – you just might need to plan a trip to get there.

You could even argue that a great restaurant is made better with an adventure to accompany it. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of incredible UK restaurants that make the perfect side dish to an epic road trip, boat voyage or train journey

As long as the food is fabulous, the vibes are wild and there’s plenty to do nearby, we’re in. That’s why you’ll find a medley of restaurants here, from three-star Michelin royalty to salty sea shacks. Whether you’re visiting from afar or just getting to know what’s on your doorstep, here’s our list of the most amazing restaurants in the UK to inspire your next trip. This is food worth travelling for. 

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UK restaurants worth planning an entire trip around

If this pub with rooms were to sit an eco-friendly exam it’d pass with flying colours. Set in the quaint town of Totnes, The Bull Inn takes a radical approach to running a boozer, favouring a low-key ethical approach to every element of its operations, from the veg-forward menu offering seasonal, organic produce to the locally-made mattresses plumped with organic Dartmoor wool. The restaurant is at the heart of this operation, and forward-thinking chefs make magic with fish from Cornwall, sustainably sourced wild venison or just some glorious legumes from local farmers. Complete your jolly with a ramble down the high street packed with off-beat boutiques and wholesome cafes, before setting your sights on the sandy south Devon beaches, just a 30-minute drive away.

It’s worth travelling to Coombeshead Farm in Cornwall just for the heavenly sourdough, let alone the whole food-forward jazz this farm-meets-guest house has to offer. Expect pickles, charcuterie and hearty hunks of home-reared meat from the kitchen, which serves diners in a cosy converted barn. After waking to the sound of cockerels and the smell of fresh bread, guests can feast on a breakfast of homemade bacon, sausages, granola and kombucha before embarking on some soul-replenishing walks in the surrounding meadows and woodland. 

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L’Enclume is the Beyonce of the restaurant world. Established, talented and admired around the globe, this gold-standard restaurant with rooms has an eye-popping three Michelin stars. According to the guide, that equates to ‘exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.’ Too right it is. At some points the tasting menu eschews plates and cutlery in favour of rocks and fingers, and its big hitters include seaweed custard with bone marrow and Berkswell pudding (like a savoury bread and butter pudding) caramelised in birch sap. And when you’re done dining on the best of the best, head out and spot red squirrels, visit chocolate box villages and climb mountains in the Lake District – it’s on the doorstep, after all.  

Ever dreamt of packing in the day job and moving to the country? Glebe House is the place to give it a test drive. You’ll find it in a lush corner of East Devon, at the end of a long driveway lined with herbs, wildflowers and daffodils. The guest house revolves around a homely farmhouse kitchen, where head chef Sam Lomas (River Cottage alumni) serves seasonal dishes using produce grown in their polytunnel and sourced from local farms. The pigs in the neighbouring woodland are cute, but don’t get too attached: they’re used to make charcuterie from scratch. After dinner, lounge in the roll-top bath in one of their fabulously-decorated rooms, and plan your weekend exploring the nearby fishing villages. 

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Based on the secluded Porthcurnick Beach and accessible only by foot along a pretty coastal path, The Hidden Hut sees food lovers travel from all over the country to attend alfresco feasts on communal tables set right on the beach. Choose from banquets such as 12-hour slow-roasted lamb with smoked aubergine and apricot tagine, sardines grilled on beech wood skewers over the fire, or Cornish lobsters cooked over an oak grill served with rosemary-salted chips. Somewhere between a festival and a restaurant, guests bring their own booze, plates, cutlery and picnic blankets. Set up camp and dine with your toes in the sand. 

This tiny harbour-side hut sees an extraordinary amount of customers queueing amongst the lobster pots. They come to try the best scallops, oysters and crab at super affordable prices. The shack is refreshingly no-frills, with owners preferring to focus on the quality of its insanely fresh seafood than it’s decor. The seafood platter is a must-order, and best enjoyed on benches overlooking the boats bringing in the day’s catch. What’s more, with its frequent ferry services to the likes of Mull, Iona, and Kerrera, Oban is known as the gateway to the isles. No wonder this humble hut is the starting point for so many Scottish adventures.

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Set in the idyllic seaside town of Fowey, Fitzroy is an elegant gem from the folks behind cult London restaurants Primeur, Westerns Laundry and Jolene. The restaurant has a daily changing menu, but expect dishes such as half a charred lobster with new potatoes and garlic butter, crab with broad beans or turbot with spinach and butter sauce. If you prefer a more relaxed vibe – or Fitzroy is all booked up – visit their sister riverfront restaurant, North Street Kitchen. Here, it’s walk-ins only and relaxed fare with the same pin-sharp service and faultless food. Take your pick – you can’t go far wrong. 

You could just drive to The Anchorstone Cafe, but that’d be a bit boring, wouldn’t it? We prefer to catch the ferry from Dartmouth, which drops you on a little riverbank opposite the restaurant. From here, ring the bell with all your enthusiasm to get the attention of the rowboat (the captain is never too far away) to take you to your final destination. Here, you’re rewarded with a sun-soaked terrace, serene river views, and a menu of excellent local seafood, including local crab, haddock from Looe and Poole farm pork pies. Continue your adventure with the Dart Explorer cruise, which will whisk you further up the River Dart to more quaint waterside towns. 

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‘Due to our unique dining experience we do not cater for any dietary requirements and do not offer substitutions for any of the dishes.’ The two-Michelin starred Ynyshir sets out its stall early doors and doesn’t leave much wiggle room, but if you share chef-patron Gareth Ward’s love of fatty meat, fire, and ferments then you’re in for an absolute treat. After an epic five-hour feast, stagger back to your luxurious Ynyshir tipi, which features its own private hot tub, fluffy robes and views over the Cambrian Mountains. We never questioned him for a second. 

Set amongst 70 acres of vineyards and farmland, Tillingham near Rye is best known for its trailblazing natural wine, but the on-site restaurant and wood-fired pizza oven complete the package. Book a table to feast on a three-course lunch of seasonal local produce, all paired with some of the best low intervention booze made in the UK, or order pizza alfresco in the old Dutch barn. Proper wine geeks can follow this with a tour of the vines and a guided tasting, before sleeping it off in one of their achingly cool rooms in an old converted hop barn.  

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The vast Gothic mansion of The Forest Side is almost intimidating, but it makes more sense in the rugged hills of the Lake District. After a day hiking in the fells, hunker down in head chef Paul Leonard’s Michelin starred restaurant for an eight-course dinner of outstanding dishes. Leonard is on a mission to create a more sustainable and organic food chain, so the kitchen grows most of its own food on site and, when possible, chefs will don their wellies and head into wilds to forage the remaining berries, leaves and sea herbs. Expect dishes like salt-aged duck with morels and rhubarb with cultured buttermilk. Wordsworth would have rated it. Probably. 

Refined, chic and dedicated to using the freshest local produce, The Hoebridge is yet another reason to visit the quaint, bunting-lined town of Melrose on the River Tweed. If the restaurant’s sleek design doesn’t win you over, then its selection of bright small plates will. Choose from crab and gruyère rarebit with pickled vegetables or chargrilled mackerel with grapes, cucumber and buttermilk cream. Save room for the cheese platter by I.J. Mellis – Edinburgh’s leading purveyors of fromage and specialists in small-scale Farmhouse producers. Finish up with a mooch along the pretty river, or embark on one of Scotland’s Great Trails – a selection of more gnarly long-distance hikes (Melrose is lucky to have a few routes that start or pass through the town) that take in the incredible scenery of Scotland.

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Forget fish and chips – with a Michelin star, outrageous local produce and golden sand on its doorstep, Beach House is our new favourite seaside meal. Head chef Hywel Griffith wants you to love Welsh food as much as he does, and it’s likely he’ll succeed serving crackers like hand-dived scallops with Welsh truffles and bara brith souffle with tea ice cream. Walk off the eight-course tasting menu on one of the many wild and unspoilt coastal paths around the Gower Peninsula. Or just settle in for that optional Welsh cheese board – no judgement here. 

At the end of a golden sandy beach in Scotland, this laid-back seafood shack serves up a reassuringly simple menu of whatever the local fishing boats bring in. Found in Elie, in the East Neuk of Fife, the weather-beaten hut has huge windows facing out to sea; it makes for an incredible setting for seafood-lovers. Choose from barbecued half lobster or langoustines, served with patatas aliñas (a classic Cádiz tapas of dressed new potato with herbs and onion), locally grown salad, aioli, lemon and sourdough. And when you’re done feasting, hit the beach and get involved in the local watersports like stand up paddleboarding and sailing – or just roll up your trousers up for a paddle.  

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